Shirak Province

Shirak is a province (marz) of Armenia. It is located in the north-west of the country, bordering Turkey in the west and Georgia in the north. Its capital and largest city is Gyumri. It is as much semi-desert as it is mountain meadow or high alpine. In the south, the high steppes crash into mountain terrain, verdant green in the spring, hues of reddish brown in the summer. The province is served by the Shirak International Airport of Gyumri.

Etymology

Shirak Province is named after the Shirak canton of the historic Ayrarat province of Ancient Armenia, ruled by the Kamsarakan noble family between the 3rd and 8th centuries.
According to Movses Khorenatsi, the name Shirak is derived from Shara, who was the great grandson of Hayk the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. However, according to the Shirak Regional Museum, many historians assume that the name is derived from the name Eriakhi found in an ancient Urartian cuneiform, where king Argishti I narrated about his invasion of the land of Eriakhi.[

Geography

Shirak Province occupies the northwestern part of Armenia and covers an area of 2,680 km2 (1,035 sq mi) (9% of total area of Armenia). It has borders with Lori Province from the east, Aragatsotn Province from the south, Kars Province of Turkey from the west and Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia from the north.
Historically, the current territory of the province mainly occupies the Shirak canton of Ayrarat province of Ancient Armenia.
Shirak is mainly dominated by the Ashotsk Plateue (1900 to 2100 meters height) at the north and the Shirak Plain (1400 to 1800 meters height) at the centre and south of the province. The vast plains of the province are surrounded with the Bazum and Pambak mountains from the east, Javakheti Range and Yeghnakhagh mountains from the north and the Aragats mass from the south. Akhurian River at the east, separates Shirak from the Kars Province of Turkey. Akhurian River with its reservoir is the main water resource in the province. Lake Arpi at the northwest of Shirak is the only lake of the province. The area is protected by the government as the Lake Arpi National Park.
Shirak is rich with tufa, pumice and limestone.
The climate is characterized with extremely cold snowy winters and mild summers. The annual precipitation level can reach up to 700 mm (28 in).

Population

According to the 2011 official census, Shirak has a population of 251,941 (121,615 men and 130,326 women), forming around 8.3% of the entire population of Armenia. The urban population is 146,908 (58.3%) and the rural is 105,033 (41.7%). The province has 3 urban and 116 rural communities. The largest urban community is the provincial centre of Gyumri, with a population of 121,976. The other urban centres of Artik and Maralik have a population of 19,534 and 5,398 respectively.
With a population of 4,838, the village of Azatan is the largest rural municipality of Shirak.
The dialect of Shirak is a variant of Karin dialect, closely related to Western Armenian